Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Urban, rural church members gather in Truman

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Date Modified: 11/21/2012 1:06 PM

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TRUMAN, Minn. — A small rural church on a hilltop surrounded by corn and soybean fields has paired with a church in downtown St. Paul.

They came together last month through an outreach by Waverly Lutheran Church in Truman. It started when farmers Jon and Karen Helvig, Joe and Kirsten Rabbe and Steve and MarLeone Williamson talked about their faith, families and farming at a kitchen table. They decided to use what they know best to begin an outreach program.

For the past two years, the profits from 30 acres has been donated to the church to fund special outreach projects. One of which came to fruition Oct. 14.

"In the Bible many of the parables Jesus uses were related to agriculture," said Karen Helvig. "Terms familiar to us, but we began to wonder what people in a city church knew about seeds, soil and sheep."

Kirsten Rabbe can understand.

"I had never seen a soybean seed until I married a soybean farmer," she said.

The rural church decided to forge a link with Gloreia Dei in St. Paul.

Liz Rabbe, daughter of Joe and Kirsten Rabbe, began teaching one of three Sunday School classes to second graders. She touched on where food comes from, stewardship and caring for God's creation.

Letters to the second graders began to arrive from the Waverly Lutheran Church. It was a multi-generational project with families "adopting" students and their families.

Harvest Homecoming brought 65 Gloria Dei members and elcoming signs made by host families greeted them. The St. Paul children were finally able to meet their pen pal/host families.

The children used up some energy searching for miniature pumpkins hidden in the cemetery. The bell rang out its call to worship. The children from city and country sat in the front, while Bible stories and parables were dramatized by church members.

The celebration continued with a huge potluck that fed 212 people. The main entree was a pork chop on a stick, with potatoes and many other side dishes and bars provided by the Waverly church women.

While adults visited, laughter could be heard from the children who participated in gunny sack races and a squash roll.

The bell rang to move everyone to the next event. One group went to a tent set up to shelter livestock. Inside were baby chicks that children could hold, baby pigs under a heat lamp, a calf, and saddled horses to ride.

A garden and canning display drew many comments. Antique machinery and modern equipment showed guests how agriculture has progressed since the church began in 1901. A few rows of corn and soybeans were left in the field for examination.

Cider and caramel corn were served before a final worship service. A new relationship between the two churches was formed.

Blessings were manifold that special Sunday, said Helvig and Rabbe. Quoting a thank you, "I think I can say with a high degree of confidence that this will be his most vivid memory of Sunday school during his childhood! To see a 9-year-old boy excited to spend the day with his 62-year-old pen pal grew my heart ten-fold. What a blessing Tom and LuAnn were to us today and over the past year with their wonderful letters. I could go on and on about the magic of the connections that were made today between Gloria Dei and the people of Waverly Church."